The Death of Truth - Michiko Kakutani

Staff Pick

Amid all the ranting and belligerence, Kakutani’s articulate, rational, and wise voice is a great relief—and a beacon of hope. Her book doesn’t just argue that facts are different from opinions, that words have meanings, that reality and truth do exist—she proves it by drawing on a wide range of historic and cultural touchstones. From the Founders and Lincoln to writers including Arendt, Orwell, Huxley, David Foster Wallace, Neil Postman, and many others, she taps expertise to trace the cultural and political roots of what gave rise to today’s resurgence of populism and demagoguery. “Trump is as much a symptom of the times as he is a dangerous catalyst,” she reminds us, and demonstrates how his disdain for facts, civility, and any perspective other than his own grew from both fascism and postmodernism. She cites chilling parallels between his use of language and Hitler’s, and shows how ideas such as cultural relativity and deconstruction—originally propounded by left-wing academics to subvert master narratives and open history to silenced voices—softened the lines between objective and subjective, and even between science and theory. This dangerous tendency to give equal weight to substance and nonsense has been abetted by technology; social media ensures that the most inflammatory stories get the widest circulation, and filter bubbles isolate people within worlds that confirm their own beliefs. Where the founders emphasized “the common good,” the very idea of consensus is now in tatters, and as community breaks down into factions, Russia has exploited and widened the divisions for its own ends, a process Kakutani dissects in detail. What can save us? Institutions such as the three branches of government, the press, and education; the courage to insist on the truth, as the Parkland students have; and books like this one.

The Death of Truth: Notes on Falsehood in the Age of Trump By Michiko Kakutani Cover Image
ISBN: 9780525574828
Availability: Special Order—Subject to Availability
Published: Crown - July 17th, 2018